12th Annual International Conference on Languages and Linguistics

On the 8-11th of July 2019, 12th Annual International Conference on Languages and Linguistics, organised by the Languages and Linguistics Unit of the Athens Institute for Education and Research (ATINER), took place in Athens, Greece.


Two days of the Conference (8-9th July) meant several sessions in which over 40 presentations were made. The topics of the sessions included Textual/Discourse Analysis and Syntax; Language, Literature, Media and Art; Semiotics/Semantics and Theory of Language; Language, Literature and Art; Student Support Mechanisms; Higher Education Institutions: Cooperation, Competition and Country Experiences; Educational Linguistics/Academic Writing; Semiotics/Semantics; Linguistics and Translation/Phonetics. The following may be noted among those presentations I managed to attend:

Professor Patrick Hancks, University of Wolverhampton, UK, spoke of a theory of semantic resonance. In his concept, words do not Have fixed meanings. But words have meaning potential and its different aspects are activated in different contexts. Words combine in conventional ways in most uses, and COBUILD Dictionary reflects this lexical currency. Professor Hancks showed why word use raises questions of literal and metaphorical meaning, how the original meaning of a word may or may not survive and how resonance works in lexis, when resonance is the semantic link or reference to an earlier meaning, historically or contextually  to specify the meaning in question. This applies to identifying a metaphor, but Professor Hancks warned that frequency and word history are “thoroughly bad criteria for recognizing metaphors”.  For instance, a car backfired may be questioned for metaphorical meaning. But there is no correspondent literal meaning. He concluded that “it’s metaphorical if one sense resonates with another. “If there’s no such resonance, it’s literal”. Professor Hancks finished on lexical resonance, (which includes metaphors and other figurative expressions), experiential resonance, (related to the meaning of snow), and intertextual resonance (a snake in the grass, can still be a snake in the grass and you can refer to it without thinking of the reptile), .

Aleksandra Burkhailo, PhD student, University of Naples “L’orientale”, Italy, spoke of Metaphoric Euphemisms in the Original Text and Italian translations of F.M.Dostojevskij’s novel “Crime and Punishment”. Her presentation was based on work with the text of the novel, work with its seven translations and work in producing a parallel corpus of Russian and Italian. Lexical themes included jazz, alcohol consumption and mental abilities. She illustrated the choice of nine Italian equivalents to cover the meaning of ‘pokojnyj’, of two Italian equivalents to cover the meaning of ‘hmel’noj’, of three Italian equivalents to cover the meaning of ‘udarit’ v golovu’, etc. She found that some translators followed the original, some vailed characteristics of Russian euphemisms, while others employed terms with plain meaning. In answering a question, she said that the end goal was to produce a more or less complete corpus and to publish a study of translation quality.

Professor Zdisław Wąsik, Adam  Mickiewicz University, Poznań, Poland,  spoke of ‘Aspectuality of Language in an Epistemological Perspective’. He singled out aspects of abstracting (varieties and aspects as oppositions), noted functional existence of language (language as spiritual force and forms  of its realisation), ontological-gnoseological properties of language, methodological-gnoseological aspects of linguistics, theory and method as substantial and formal aspects of scientific disciplines. In answering a question, Professor Wąsik said that he exploits theoretical linguistics in teaching with considerable success.

In her presentation, “The Semiotic Phenomenology of Play in the Socio-Cultural becoming of Human Self”, Professor Elżbieta Magdalena Wąsik based her argument on the exclusivity of animal to all inclusivity of human persons.  Contrasting the play of animals and men,  she found human beings as musing and mediating subjects. She found paly as “an activity which contributes to strengthening of social bonds and helps people understand the symbolic nature of human engagements”.

Speaking of assessing complexity in academic and popular writing in Hong-Kong English, Elena Seoane, Associate Professor, University of Vigo, Spain, and Cristina Suarez-Gomez, Senior Lecturer, University of Balearic Islands, Spain, found that passives are more frequent in scientific writing and differentiate humanities and social sciences; relative clauses are less frequent in popular than academic writing, more frequent in humanities than in other specialised social registers and that academic writing is not mono-stylistic.

Gloria Vazquez, Senior Lecturer, Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand, found that it is possible to teach pragmatic awareness to low level learners, in her talk, “Can we Teach Pragmatic Awarenerss in the Classroom to Foreign Language Students at Elementary Level?”

Professor Patricia Holt, Georgia Southern University, USA, identified impostership (more characteristic of women) as a disease, outlined how to study it and how to help students with impostership, in her talk, “Helping Students Identify and Overcome Negative Emotions in the University Classroom,”.

Professor Marija Liudvika Drazdauskiene, Wszechnica Polska, Warsaw, Poland,  presented a paper “The Phatic Use of English in Literature”, in which she described differences in the exploitation of the phatic use of English by Margaret Drabble, Jane Austen, William Shakespeare and John Arden. She argued for an extension of the original assumption about similarities between casual talk of Islanders of the Pacific and European drawing-room talk: while stating that European small talk ranges from playful, to inquisitive, to ironic, to intelligent, she showed whence is its wealth of meaning in fiction. Methodologically, she touched upon differences between functional and cognitive approaches in the analysis of text.

All academics who spoke of support to and inclusion of students at university stated that students, especially those from minority groups and international exchange, require support and guidance at university and have to be given it.

Speakers from Canada and Ireland invited participating colleagues to inter-institutional exchange and cooperation.

Like previous ATINER Conferences, this year’s Conference was opened by Doctor Gregory Papanikos, President of ATINERR, who referred to classical antiquity to say that these conferences are organised in the guise of the Greek  symposia of 2500 years ago for international academics to come, to socialise and share their experience in the atmosphere of respect and expertise. The President quoted Pericles to remind participants of the welcoming country: “Our city is open to the world. We never expel  a foreigner from coming and learning”. Indeed, it is not only the Conference but also its Cultural Programme  that permitted participants to learn something new about Greece and the world. Greek Night and Dinner with Songs and Dances in the spirit of perfect ethic at the end of the first day, An Educational Urban Walk in Modern and Ancient Athens in the morning of the second day, trips to Aegean Islands, to Mycenae, Delphi, Ancient Corinth and Cape Sounion made a great opportunity for the participants to see the country and learn about it. Apart from seeing excavations and ruins, enjoying and marveling at the historical and decorative Greek art in the museums, I have learned that excavations on Crete, the largest Greek Island, are changing Europe’s concept of itself. It appears that there is testimony from  Crete-Minoan culture that the Greeks cherished their sense of beauty in their life and worship. For instance, new evidence shows that the Greeks sacrificed greenery, leaves and flowers rather than blood sacrifices which, in fact, were only symbolic. As part of the knowledge of classical antiquity, I was reminded of the birth of tragedy in religious ceremony where it was intended for the purification of the soul. Even modern Greek dances, in which we had an opportunity to take part, draw on  ancient cultural rites. The whirling of the human line in a Greek dance with hands-around in-and-out through different rooms symbolises movement through the maze. Greek songs are songs of joy in which the mandolin sound vibrates to catch on the voice and flow on with tremolo effect in the spirit of enjoyment.